Over dinner I made an attempt to share some ideas and concerns. This was my first formal meeting with the Institute. “I have concerns about how things gain significance”, I began. When looking through the menu I arrived at the Chinese character signifying foot. What the mouth above what look to be toes was for, I wasn’t sure, but there was something intriguing about it, appetising, even. “So to me it is a question of negotiating the meaning and value of things”, I continued avidly. Since the words and the dishes, for the most part, have no discernable relationship of signification, the Institute did the ordering. Soon the first dishes arrived, displaying various characteristics; to me heating a cucumber was quite unusual.“I want to go somewhere faraway to isolate a series of features to form a system.”This idea I learned about from a friend and now I wanted to try it out, to bring it into my own life, so to speak. More unlikely dishes were introduced, far outnumbering us. “So are these Chinese features?” the Institute wanted to know. “No, to me China is a matter of indifference, merely providing a reserve of features all a part of a symbolic order, one altogether detached from my own.” A pungent condiment made my tongue numb, which quite clearly affected my ability to articulate sounds. “I am in no way claiming to represent reality, rather I want to add reality to things by employing these features.” “Or put another way, these features should make me relate better to the things I encounter.” I mistook SY’s drink for a shared dish and dug my spoon into it. “Most importantly, this system of features should afford me a situation of writing, a situation of thinking. And later if possible a situation of affect and pleasure”, I said while eating a bit more of his drink. Opening hour and location: June 11th 2017, 5:30 PM Institute for Provocation @ Black Sesame Space Heizhima hutong 13, Dongcheng district, Beijing 100009, China
About the artist Kasper Hesselbjerg lives and works in Copenhagen. For several years he has been working with sculptures, collage, and language in the pursuit of questions on the meaning of objects, and how these meanings might affect our everyday lives. He has been working with the practices around objects such as food and tea. Food has served as an example of an object which has to be encountered with both the senses and the thought to be fully grasped. His latest published books are Cornflakes and other Specific Objects, which poses a sculptural theory on food, catastrophe theory, and Salad fever, a meditation on the role of imagination in the experience of objects. He is also the founder and editor of the publishing house emancipa(t/ss)ionsfrugten with Absalon Kirkeby. Kasper Hesselbjerg's residency at IFP is supported by Danish Art Council
Once during a conversation with Kasper, he considered what kind of political efficiency it is that we look for and believe in within art practice today. A couple of days later he quoted this line: "If art has effects on society, it is not because its experience would constitute something like a universal subjectivity but because the experiencing subject is potentially confronted with its own social and cultural assumptions", taken from Juliane Rebentisch’s writing. Instead of believing in an art that acts politically via its signification, he would rather regard art as the production of difference.
What is art’s claim to the production of difference? Art is considered to be different from perceptual/social norms, setting internal structures and producing its own norms. And yet, art also struggles in being different, it is simultaneously considered not to be different from the norm, insofar as it has to situate itself within empirical reality as a part of the social, in fulfilling its universality. It is because of art’s singularity that it struggles to be normalized. As a result of these contradictions art achieves a self-awareness through which we can endorse the presence of self-experience and cognition as the basis for our politics. The self-awareness is demonstrated by an understanding that the images art produces act as a correlate of the real that is supposedly free from the law of science and that embodies indeterminacy and contingency.
Kasper’s practice considers this phenomenon of indeterminacy; here aesthetic experience occurs when self-awareness is gathered from the form-content and cannot be directly integrated with hegemonic academic knowledge. He is dedicated to building a bridge between the construction of the subject and the creation of meaning and value. For Kasper, this “construction” can be seen as a practice of freedom. The implications for the operation of subjectivities and, in particular, the nature of aesthetic experience are addressed, and the distinction between the perception of visual forms and their cognitive interpretations are present throughout this exhibition. The works also invite the viewer to entertain objects attached to diverse cultural contexts, the ones that each of us comes from, the ones that we live in and the ones that we will encounter. To entertain objects that might be attached to a place or a kind of inertia and its daily experience, an experience that might not correspond to scientific or positivistic knowledge. Also to deliberate objects that might manifest in a work of art, in which the form and content can appear in the realm of art, leading us towards an aesthetic experience.
Hu Wei 2017. 6